Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By AL STOVER
Staff Reporter 

Holy and Baumgartner stop in Cheney

Lawmakers talk economy, budgets and trains to attendees at town hall meeting

 


State legislative 6th District Rep. Jeff Holy (R-Cheney) and Sen. Mike Baumgartner (R-Spokane) spoke and took questions at a town hall meeting at Wren Pierson Community Center, April 30.

Holy explained his interest is economic development. He said he is working with county commissioners, developers, property owners and engineers to try to attract people to the region.

Holy said there is an application in process to put a transloading facility on Craig Road and McFarlane Road and a circle track with elevators at Four Lakes.

Holy said they are looking at the area around Exit 272 as a focal point to “get this thing going” and that Spokane County Commissioner Al French has “3-4 groups that would start using the I-90 corridor.”

“You’ve got so much going on here, it’s kind of ground zero for economic development,” Holy said.

Baumgartner explained some of the things that happened during the 2014 legislative session. He said they passed a balanced bipartisan budget, which prioritized education. He added that schools in the region can implement all-day kindergarten, and there was no tuition increase for higher education.

Baumgartner said they missed some things such as “trying to make Washington state a more competitive place to do business.”

Baumgartner said the state has many transportation issues, specifically the need for new roads, as well as maintenance and operation challenges.

“We really have to restructure the system to get better value than what you’re paying for now,” Baumgartner said.

Baumgartner said there is funding for the State Route 904 expansion and Gov. Jay Inslee introduced carbon emissions standards and talked about an executive order to introduce a cap-and-trade program.

One topic was whether taxes from liquor and marijuana sales would go to the cities. Holy said with liquor taxes there is an issue with taxes, licensing fees and price between distributors, large stores and small retailers.

“Any advantage any of them gains, the others lose,” Holy said. “Whether it’s an advantage having to do with the taxes, the routing of the taxes, who’s going to get the advantage and who’s going to get our support. When we figure out that construct, we’ll be able to see where that money goes.”

In the case of marijuana, Holy said there is no tax model for it, though he has talked about putting together a group to figure one out.

Holy explained that he sponsored a bill to take the $25 million marijuana tax revnue and give it to the cities to use for public safety, but the bill did not receive a hearing. Baumgartner agreed that cities should get money to use for safety.

Tom Soeldner, chair of Faith and Environment Network in Spokane, asked why the senate did not pass the supplemental capital budget.

Baumgartner explained that the Senate and the House were unable to reach an agreement on the budget. He added that the Senate had done an “extra-large” capital budget in last year’s session and two substantial budgets the year before.

Baumgartner said there would be a capital budget with environmental projects at the next session.

Nancy Street said she was concerned about the increase in coal trains in Cheney.

Baumgartner said he sponsored a bill that would apply a new tax to oil tankers coming through for environmental cleanup.

“We can’t do anything about interstate commerce because it’s a federal issue, but what we can do is impact the cleanup and control,” Baumgartner said.

When asked on the progress toward McCleary standards, Baumgartner said there will be funding going into K-12 in the next few years, but isn’t sure if the state will reach full implementation.

Cheney Mayor Tom Trulove thanked Holy and Baumgartner for their work, but explained that the city has lost money over the years and is down to cutting services.

Trulove said there has always been a partnership between the cities, counties and the state.

“Whatever you can do to help us reestablish that historic partnership so that together we can work on these problems,” Trulove said.

Baumgartner agreed with Trulove and said it would take a combination of factors to get that done. He and Holy have also discussed helping Cheney with fire and police.

Al Stover can be reached at al@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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